CANNABIS POSSESSION REMAINS A CRIME

Discussion in 'Cannabis' started by Alfa, May 15, 2004.

  1. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member Administrator

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    CANNABIS POSSESSION REMAINS A CRIME

    Liberals Leave Decriminalization Bill To Die

    A bill to decriminalize marijuana has gone up in smoke, failing for the
    second time in six months and prompting criticism the Martin government
    deliberately killed the proposal.

    "As we speak, it doesn't look too good," Mario Lague, a spokesman for the
    Prime Minister's Office, said as the House of Commons wrapped up its last
    voting day before an anticipated election call this month.

    Critics contend the Liberals lacked the political will to pass the
    controversial legislation proposing to decriminalize possession of less
    than 15 grams of marijuana, making it an offence punishable with a fine
    rather than a criminal record.

    The bill also called for harsher penalties against marijuana grow operations.

    The legislation had been languishing in limbo for two months after the
    Conservatives, trying to block passage, introduced amendments during
    Parliamentary debate.

    The Liberals then moved on to legislation they considered more pressing --
    including redrawing electoral boundaries, reforming political donations and
    providing AIDS drugs for Africa -- leaving the bill to die.

    "They never really intended to go with it," said Conservative MP Randy
    White. "If a majority government in this country wants to make a bill go
    through, that's a piece of cake."

    The bill has been fiercely criticized by groups who say that what Canada
    really needs is a new national drug strategy to deal with the country's
    multibillion-dollar illicit drug problem.

    The latest incarnation of marijuana legislation was proposed in February,
    reviving a Jean Chretien bill introduced last spring.

    Its death means the next Parliament will have to start all over again on an
    issue that has been debated for more than 30 years.

    The House of Commons is on a break next week and Prime Minister Paul Martin
    is expected to call an election the following weekend, so yesterday was
    believed to be the last day to vote on legislation.

    Several other government bills have also failed, including whistleblower
    legislation that would protect public servants who report government
    misdeeds, a law to enable police to take saliva, blood and hair samples
    from people suspected of driving while impaired by drugs, and another to
    expand a data ban
    k that stores the DNA samples of people who have committed
    serious crimes.

    Legislation to toughen laws against child pornography collectors, ocean
    polluters and people who are cruel to animals are all on their deathbed in
    the Senate, which is not expected to sit next week.

    Mr. Lague said Mr. Martin still supports marijuana decriminalization and
    the Liberal government intends to introduce another bill if it wins the
    election.

    "I think the prime minister has been very clear on many occasions on what
    he thought of the bill," said Mr. Lague. "He stated his position quite
    clearly about having problems with somebody having a criminal record for
    life for being caught with a small quantity."

    Mr. Martin has suggested, however, that the amount of marijuana to escape
    criminal penalties should be lowered.

    The U.S. has vocally opposed Canada's move toward decriminalization, saying
    it would mean more potent Canadian marijuana moving south.

    But the bill also thrust Canada into the international spotlight on other
    fronts, drawing praise from The Economist, a leading international
    magazine, that the country is becoming "rather cool."